I couldn’t think where to start

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Real Life - al­i­joedesigns.com

As I step back from the wall and see the two plates, the pat­terned de­sign tum­bling from one to the next, I feel a surge of pride. Not only be­cause my mod­ern take on tra­di­tional vin­tage ce­ram­ics has caught the eye of a top-de­signer, but be­cause – at the age of 59 – I’ve found cre­ative ful­fil­ment.

Hav­ing al­ways been a self-con­fessed ‘nosy parker,’ my orig­i­nal ca­reer suited me down to the ground: at 21 I trained as a mar­ket re­searcher and never looked back. It was fun to learn what makes peo­ple tick.

Even­tu­ally, I formed my own com­pany, and lat­terly worked as an in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant. But, over time, I yearned for some­thing dif­fer­ent. With my sons, Alex, now 24, and Ol­lie, now 21, grown-up, there were

Pas­sion for plates

I’d al­ways loved vin­tage plates; I’m also a great lover of old advertising mem­o­ra­bilia and vin­tage pic­tures. One day in 2014, dur­ing a walk around an an­tiques mar­ket, some­thing clicked – I’d pre­vi­ously done a course on ‘de­coupage,’ where you ap­ply paper in lay­ers to fur­ni­ture or ob­jects, and I won­dered whether I could give vin­tage plates a mod­ern twist.

It started off as an ex­per­i­ment, but

I re­ally en­joyed it.

I lay awake at night think­ing about the de­sign for my next plate – and re­alised

I was feel­ing more pas­sion­ate and driven by the ex­pe­ri­ence than I had been by any­thing for ages

After a while, I built up my con­fi­dence and sold de­signs at craft mar­kets. And dur­ing the sec­ond of these – in High­gate in Jan­uary 2015 – some­thing amaz­ing hap­pened. A man hov­er­ing at my stall asked if I ever ac­cept com­mis­sions. He was work­ing with Ted Baker on a Bournemouth ho­tel and wanted to use my plates in the dé­cor! I was both flat­tered and stunned – even more so when Ted (whose real name is Ray) re­quested some for his home!

The same month I made the leap into de­sign­ing plates full-time and it’s been won­der­ful.

My hus­band,

Steven, 59, has been sup­port­ive through­out.

It’s early days, but I’ve set a per­sonal tar­get to cre­ate the ‘best dressed walls in town’ and I’ve been de­scribed as a ‘se­cret Banksy of the vin­tage plate world’ but – for me – the big­gest re­ward is see­ing how my de­signs make peo­ple smile.

less fam­ily costs, but I couldn’t think where to start.

She gives vin­tage plates a mod­ern spin

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